It took some willpower to get moving again with the promise of another day going up and down steep slopes, but we did it sure enough.
Amusingly, part of what helped push us out the door was the promise that today would be easier. Shorter. We’d done well enough the day before, so that seemed promising. We even let ourselves sleep a little longer, dally over our packing, take our time at breakfast. After all, if we’d made it through the first day, surely this would be fine.
Oh, what fools these mortals etc.
It didnt’t take me long to put my finger on one key difference that would be a theme for the day. It’s one thing, hiking with people who have done what you are doing before. Don’t get me wrong, yesterday was great, and intense, and many adjectives besides.
But when Carl and I set out on our own from Hungry Hill Lodge (with yet another person commenting on how big my bag was and come on guys do you think I haven’t noticed the size of my pack somehow after hauling it up and down a few mountains?) I looked down at the map. Which I was holding this time. And I realized that it was now entirely up to us to figure this out.
Those two dogs, by the by, would be the first animals to have opinions about our presence today, but not the last. Nobody got bitten in this case, but we divvied up my trekking poles for a while after they managed to sufficiently terrify the both of us into thinking they might give us a go.
Do you see any waymarkers in this field? Neither did we. Protip: When in doubt, take the heading off the last one and go in that direction, generally following footprints, until you see the next one. However, in this case, we of course broke that rule because the direction indicated by the arrow led straight through a bog which we skirted around. Happily we did eventually find our way to the next little yellow man.
At the beginning of the day I was amused at how battered this waymarker was. By the end I look back and go “he’s so clearly a waymarker! He’s pointing along the right path! How wonderful!”
See, for example, this one, which was of course right at an intersection where multiple choices were valid and we had to do a bit of deduction to figure out which was correct. Protip: if you run into this issue, think about what hikers from BOTH directions would be seeing, and take that into account. Make it be correct to lead people back where you came and that will help
Also be aware that some signs are LIES. This one pointed directly into a fenced off field of cows, which, spoiler, was not the correct choice. Thankfully we were able to puzzle that out using the map. The style of sign is a hint – this one was actually intended for drivers who are going to the bottom of the actual trail, to warn them the turn was coming up.
This style of sign, on the other hand, has so far always been accurate and trustworthy. This was the real turn, at this point continuing to follow a road rather than sending you into barbed wire
Back towards Adrigole, receding in the distance
“Spot the little yellow man” is the non-optional “Where’s Waldo” equivalent of hiking national waymarked trails in Ireland
What a nice improvised planter. I am pretty sure it was the tree that did the improvising
4-5 hours LOLOLOL. Also “if you bring your dog into our sheep fields we will feel zero compunction about shooting it”
See this creek? Yeah that’s basically your path
You can’t see it but the next waymarker is at the top of that ridge enjoy your climb
Oh, and enjoy this complimentary view which also shows you the insane trail you just came up (not the reasonable looking actual trail to the left, we never went on that, I mean the scrabbly litttle line of rocks that runs down to the right)
We noticed you seem to like going up so we gave you more up to go (this time you CAN see the next waymarker, look at the top near the fence)
Now please follow this fence, nevermind the rocks and sinkholes
Pausing the endless climb to look backwards
The stiiiiles are aliiive… with the sound of muuuusic….
Okay this may be the first time I have ever been on a trail with an EXPLICITLY LABELED emergency exit. This should in fact tell you something about the character of the trail in both directions…
At this point, we had started to become accustomed to the presence of regular sucking mud. Protip: WATERPROOF SHOES, guys. No joke. Have them.
The ascent had almost maybe sort of tapered off into a ridgeline, which was studded with massive geological artworks
By “tapered off” I did not mean to say it stopped ascending, merely that the ascents were spaced out slightly more so as to better lull you into a false sense of security so they could gut punch you more effectively. Carl, expressing our current mood quite eloquently
And because that particular rock formation was so very awesome, the view back down around it…
As we went along the fence, waymarkers seemed to become ever more spread out and far less obviously official. Our disdainful amusement at the battered or ivy-covered little yellow men of several hours ago began to seem quaint as our guideposts became ever more vague.
I guess this yellow smear is probably a good sign…?
At this point we have been fully absorbed into the Hansel and Gretel bread-crumb hunting metaphor as we are literally scanning the ground for yellow paint flecks that indicate one of these posts MIGHT have once been painted yellow
It gives you no idea which way to go but at least it tells you that you are at this moment on the correct path…?
Those knots are yellow so that’s good right?
Maurice and Carl, taking a break from looking for specks of yellow
Protip: if you are doing this trail and following this fence, you will, at some point, begin to lose faith and think you should maybe have left it. DO NOT DO THIS. I swear to you that the point at which your way diverges from the fence is clearly signposted and has a stile. In the meantime… just keep climbing, friend, and know that I feel for you. This is what it looks like when you turn from the fence:
That line of poles off to the right is your new fence and it is so much clearer
And after a great deal of exhaustion and stress, it is that line of poles which would lead us towards the rewards for our perseverance… (see next post)